Reel Estate

Reel Estate: Lena Dunham and her family's real-life loft in Tiny Furniture

By Virginia K. Smith | September 26, 2014 - 2:59PM

Not many aimless twenty-somethings are lucky enough to live rent-free in a massive Tribeca loft after leaving college, let alone use it for an entire film shoot. But such is Lena Dunham's luck with her 2010 breakout Tiny Furniture, which we're re-visiting in honor of her book release next week.

The film—which Dunham herself made not long after graduating from school—follows the bumbling goings-on of Aura, who moves back in with her sister and artist mother in Tribeca after graduating from college in the Midwest. Aura proceeds to get a job as a hostess at a restaurant down the street, and makes a series of all-too-typical, misguided stabs at the transition into adulthood, albeit in a nicer apartment than most. (She also invites straggler friends to stay with her rent-free, much to her mother's chagrin.)

In a case of art (loosely) imitating life, Dunham did, in fact, film a good deal of the movie in her parents' loft at 16 Desbrosses Street, a two-bedroom duplex with its own artist's studio. Of the 2009 shoot, Dunham's mother, artist Laurie Simmons—who plays herself in the movie—told the New York Times, ​“Lena asked if she could shoot a movie here, and I said O.K., as long as she didn’t ruin the white floors, and then she asked if her sister and I would be in it. [...] [The shoot] was pretty chaotic, with lots of pizza and coffee and egg sandwiches flying around. I still find bits of gaffers’ tape. And of course the white floors were totally wrecked.”

Town Real Estate

After refinishing said floors, Simmons and her husband, artist Carroll Dunham, sold the 3,600-square-foot unit last May for its initial asking price of $6.25 million. A consortium of artists had purchased the building, a former textile warehouse, for $7.9 million in 2001 and converted it into condos, the Times notes. 

Since the sale, Dunham's parent have relocated to Connecticut, as so many parents do. And, as a successful writer/director/actress/filmmaker rather than a semi-employed post-college slacker, Lena snagged a $500,000 Brooklyn Heights one-bedroom of her own back in 2012. As for Aura, though, the movie ends with her still shacked up in her parents house, and frankly? We can't exactly blame her.

Watch the trailer for the movie below, or check out the entire thing on Netflix, where it's streaming:


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